Key issue will be growing unwanted workforce

LETTER

The declared intent of the Government to begin raising the age of pension entitlement in 2037 ignores the likely scenario of work and employment conditions at that time.

The age at which a worker might retire is the wrong question to ask. Why? Because by then, or even sooner, automation and robotics will have replaced many traditional jobs — not just those in factory and field, but in the professions too. Countless blue and white collar workers may be redundant well before they are 65, or even 60 or 55, replaced by clever machinery, or in the case of lawyers and accountants, computer-generated algorithms.

So the question government faces is far deeper than the traditional old age pension. It is how to manage a growing unwanted workforce, comprising young and old, who will have time on its hands and reduced income. This scenario will ultimately lead to a widening gap between the rich (who own the robotics) and the poor (who have been replaced), and is therefore potentially destablising and dangerous for the whole of society.

The problem of the future of work is worldwide and so far there has been no agreement on how to deal with it. However, one experiment aimed at dealing with this looming problem is currently being tested in Scandinavia. It is called the “universal income” or wage, payable to all whether in work or not. It has been ridiculed by many right-wing economists, but in the light of making pension policy so far ahead and in an uncertain future, this may be worth a second look.

John Darkin

The declared intent of the Government to begin raising the age of pension entitlement in 2037 ignores the likely scenario of work and employment conditions at that time.

The age at which a worker might retire is the wrong question to ask. Why? Because by then, or even sooner, automation and robotics will have replaced many traditional jobs — not just those in factory and field, but in the professions too. Countless blue and white collar workers may be redundant well before they are 65, or even 60 or 55, replaced by clever machinery, or in the case of lawyers and accountants, computer-generated algorithms.

So the question government faces is far deeper than the traditional old age pension. It is how to manage a growing unwanted workforce, comprising young and old, who will have time on its hands and reduced income. This scenario will ultimately lead to a widening gap between the rich (who own the robotics) and the poor (who have been replaced), and is therefore potentially destablising and dangerous for the whole of society.

The problem of the future of work is worldwide and so far there has been no agreement on how to deal with it. However, one experiment aimed at dealing with this looming problem is currently being tested in Scandinavia. It is called the “universal income” or wage, payable to all whether in work or not. It has been ridiculed by many right-wing economists, but in the light of making pension policy so far ahead and in an uncertain future, this may be worth a second look.

John Darkin

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you think Wainui and Okitu should be reticulated for water and sewage?